First Climate Change Trial Now on the Horizon

On October 15, 2018, Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S.D.C. for the District of Oregon denied the federal government’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and motion for summary judgment in the Juliana lawsuit filed by 21 minors. As previously explained in this blog, the minors allege that the government has violated their constitutional rights with regard to decisions that have led to climate change. Further, the minors seek to compel the federal government to prepare a consumption-based inventory of
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A $289 Million Dollar Roundup Verdict is at Risk of Reversal

Last week, a San Francisco judge issued a tentative ruling on the defendant Monsanto Company’s Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, and their Motion for a New Trial.  This ruling threatens to gut the $289 million dollar verdict ($39M compensatory and $250M punitives) that the plaintiff Dewayne Johnson secured this summer over the company that manufactures Roundup and Ranger Pro, the glyphosate-containing herbicides used by the plaintiff in his work as a school district groundskeeper and that were alleged to have
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Long-Term Environmental Impact of Hurricane Florence Yet to be Seen

As of press time, Hurricane Florence has claimed nearly 40 lives and caused extensive destruction in the hardest-hit areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Environmental analysts will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to measure the environmental impact of the storm. At present, we have detected three current areas of primary environmental concern — risk to nuclear sites, the spread of coal ash waste, and the flooding of industrial farms.  Nuclear Sites: The Carolinas are uniquely situated
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Environmental Due Diligence: What’s The Latest On Federal Environmental Review?

Just a few days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee — in a tight split — voted to support a bill that seeks to target the slow pace of the permitting process for infrastructure and development projects that require review by federal agencies. The bill, named the “Permitting Litigation Efficiency Act,” is expected to impose limits on federal review of projects, i.e., an apparent two-year deadline for federal agencies to determine whether a project can go forward. Other
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PFAS Update: Unregulated (Mostly), Uncertain, and Ubiquitous

Partner George Buermann and associate Oliver Twaddell of the firm’s Environmental Practice Group recently published a short article, “PFAS Update: Unregulated (Mostly), Uncertain, and Ubiquitous,” in DRI’s Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee newsletter.  This update offers a quick read on key developments related to PFAS — chemicals that have become a major focus of both the plaintiffs’ bar as well as regulators relative to environmental, product liability, and toxic tort issues. Read the full article here. 
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California Leading the Charge In Renewable Energy

Recently, the Assembly of the State of California approved the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018 or “SB100” which will require all energy used in the state to come from renewable sources by December 31, 2045. The bill, authored by State Senator Kevin de León, passed the California Senate last year, the Assembly on August 28, 2018, and was reconciled by the Senate on August 29, 2018. All that remains before the bill becomes law, is Governor Jerry Brown’s
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EPA Releases Report Linking Sterilizing Chemical to Increased Risk of Cancer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a suburban area in Willowbrook, Illinois is facing a risk of cancer over nine times the national average due to contamination by ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide has been used for decades as fumigant to sterilize heat-sensitive medical equipment and other goods. The volatile, easily absorbed chemical has been recognized as a carcinogen since 1985. In December 2016, the EPA released a re-assessment linking it more conclusively to breast and blood cancer.
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Legionella Strikes Again In New York City

As we recently reported, New York City recently increased its enforcement of regulations for treating cooling towers, particularly given that the increased risk of legionella from cooling towers during the warmer summer months. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by pathogen known as legionella. Legionella is a water-borne bacteria, transmitted through aerosolized droplets of water, e.g., the mist or condensation by-products of HVAC cooling towers on top of buildings. While a relatively common bacteria, legionella, when not properly treated in a water system,
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The Roundup Windup

Widespread personal injury litigation based on exposure to Roundup, the widely-used pesticide produced by the Monsanto Company, is no longer a plaintiffs’ bar pipe-dream — it is close to becoming a reality. Hundreds of cases have been filed, mostly in St. Louis and San Francisco, and the first trial of such a matter will commence this week in California state court. As we have reported previously, there has been broad and long-running controversy over whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in
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In the Hands of the States: Pesticide Use and Regulation of Marijuana Cultivation

To date, nine states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Additionally, medical marijuana is legal in another 29 states. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has stated that “With over 60 percent of Americans now supporting the full legalization of marijuana for adults, the momentum behind marijuana law reform will not only continue but increase as we head into 2018.” Despite remaining illegal on the federal level,
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